So it’s another week with another tricky away trip.
Yes, Liverpool are a bunch of thieving scousers. Yes, they sign crap players for stupid amounts of money. Yes, they then loan/sell them for pennies a year later. Yes, they still play Jamie Carragher who lost all footballing ability about 3 seasons ago (but is still a world leader in getting away with blatant penalty fouls). Yes, they insist on surrounding a world class Gerrard with turds like Henderson, Shelvey and Lucas.
However, Liverpool can beat any team that rock up at Anfield, and we’ll need to be on top of our game to take the 3 points on Sunday. Or we could just wait for Alex Song to chip a little ball over the top for Van Persie to volley home in the dying minutes……..oh.
I'm not going to bleat on about the lack of transfer activity (shameless plugging alert), if you wish to read more may I recommend this particularly well written piece at www.ashburtonchat.blogspot.com . So without further delay let’s head straight onto team news.
The grapevine is reverberating with whispers about Szcz continued absence, which isn’t the best news I've heard all weekend (hearing AVB was still employed by Tottenham sits top of the pile at the moment). Combined with Fabianski’s injury it means that Mannone will return between the sticks for his second successive first team game, indicating that the “fresh start” feeling will continue through this weekend. He kept a clean sheet last weekend but in all fairness he didn’t have too much to do, which is a testament to our levels of possession and defensive organisation rather than a slight on him. As he attests, Liverpool will have far more of the ball than Stoke did last weekend so he’ll more than likely have to pull off a few saves to keep us in contention of a win.
Our longer term absentees remain just that, but positive news from the camp suggests that Sagna and Wilshere will be back training after the international-pointless-wasteoftime-noonecares-givemepremierleaguefootballeveryweek-break. Jenkinson has performed well in the opening two games according to me, but being up against the likes of Suarez and Gerrard will keep him far busier. I believe I also heard somewhere that Oxlade was in for a start this weekend, which could potentially bring our English contingent up to four if Theo starts! Quite atypical.
I would probably go for the following line up, were I Arsene Wenger:
Mannone, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Diaby, Cazorla, Oxlade, Walcott, Giroud.
Walcott was benched last week, which I hope had little to do with the contract farce that he’s staging. Hopefully Wenger realised that Walcott can be utterly useless against teams that are content to sit deep and never attack. Liverpool will be on the offensive like any self-respecting premier league team, so I'm sure Theo will be effective against their higher line. To be fair to him, he has a tendency to step up in the bigger games too.
I think Diaby needs games to reach his best, and while our options are a little scarce in the middle (Wilshere, Rosicky injured, Ramsey very much a bench option at the moment), we may as well run him ragged. From a fantasy league point of view I need Podolski to start so I’d probably rather see Diaby dropped for Oxlaide, but Diaby is held in very high esteem my Mr Wenger so I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see him retain his place.
That’s about it for this week. To any gooners travelling up for the game, please remember to keep you valuables on your person at all times, or your match day ticket won’t be the only thing you leave the stadium without.
I’ll be putting up a match review on my blog Monday morning (see above), so be sure to check it out if you have the time.